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Timber Finish ideas to protect hive

Hi there,

Looking for some advice on which timber finish to use. We live in Australia and was hoping others could tell us which timber finish they used.

Is it best to use a wax or oil?

I used a lifetime deck stain/sealant. I love the results.


Hi @bobbee,

Wax dipping is the best way to go if a low maintenance approach is desirable.
Oil, probably, is the least durable thing for outdoor application.
Before I switched to poly hives, I used exterior water-based paints - quick and easy.

If you want a really cool “timber” look, epoxy and fibreglass is the most durable finish you can achieve. It is not hard to do but takes several days to let every coat harden.

I can’t imagine epoxy or fibreglass being any good for the bees or management of the hive with the high range of chemicals involved, difficulties to reapply if you need to keep it bee-free for a while before introducing them, debris chipping away and getting into the hive and bees insides if you happened to chip a bit of the timber with your hive tool, for example.

I would suggest as natural product as possible. Choosing a sunny and dry location to avoid moisture, and painting the timber roof, top and under side.

Would you paint the very interior underside of the roof as well, or just the exposed eaves?

I’d imagine it would be better to leave the inside unpainted to allow the wood the breathe.

You may also want to give the bees access to that roof cavity at some point so you might prefer it to be unpainted for that possibility.

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It’s a nice finish. Looks like you drilled a hole in the roof. Is that for ventilation?

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Yeah. It’s a screened off 1" hole. There are 2 on the backside as well. I also allow them access into the roof cavity via the center hole in the top board. I was having lots of uncapped honey before. Not anymore, it stays moist around here. We have had 48 inches/122 centimeters of rain so far this year.

The interior underside :slight_smile:

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Your hive looks great, but do you have warm winters so that heat loss through the roof holes is not a concern? I also live in a very wet place (Ireland), but I don’t think I can afford to let heat escape through roof vents. I would love to know your geography specific enough to compare to mine since we’re heading into the long, wet winter. Thank you!

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I’m in East Tennessee USA. We get snow in the winter. It’s almost always a sloppy wet snow. I have cut a small notch in the side of the top board. Once our days drop below 70°f I will put the plug into the top board and flip it over so that the opening I cut makes an n shape. This allows the ventilation to go through the side instead of the center.

I also have to keep the bottom board out except in the coldest of months. They need the extra ventilation here because it’s always so wet. If it’s not rain, fog, or wet snow then it’s lots of morning dew. Here is a hive body link. It shows the ever important notch we need here. The Parts of a Beehive - dummies

It’s important to get with your local beeks and learn what they do. We have monthly meetings here and talk about what we’re doing and what we’re to do next with the state apiary master. I bet you have something similar.

Thanks for all the info @Wizard. I’ve joined the local beekeeping group but it’s a somewhat rural place and there has been little group activity so far but I keep looking. I have a neighbour who just harvested maybe 70 small jars from a very good season in a small apiary, so I’m encouraged. As long as I can help my little colony stay dry and warm enough, and relatively mite-free.

I lived most of my life between Ohio, Boston and DC, so coming to southern Ireland where it never gets very cold or hot, but is almost always varying levels of damp, is a big difference.

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